This story begins during my college days. College was an interesting season in my life. I had great friends, lived in one of the most beautiful parts of Texas, spent most weekends floating the river, and I did well in school. On the other end of the spectrum, I had a constant feeling of emptiness that I tried to fill up with partying, attention from guys and an eating disorder. I was desperate to find the guy I would marry and be able to start creating a life with. This desperate search for love and acceptance didn’t go over well. I was looking for love in all the wrong places and didn’t hold very high standards for myself. Because of my past, I felt like I was damaged goods and believed I didn’t deserve the best in a relationship. This quest for love turned into a cycle of rejection and heartache that made me feel less and less worthy.
One day I had an emotional breakdown in my car. I felt so alone, hopeless and empty. I knew I was done living the way I had the past 3 years. I cried out to God for the first time and asked him to take away my pain. He was there immediately. I didn’t hear an audible voice or see an angel, but I felt the presence of God so strongly in my little car. I felt surrounded by His love, and a sudden peace came over me. I promised God in that moment that I would stop trying to pursue relationships with guys and I would start getting to know Him. That very weekend I found a church to go to all by myself. Seeking a relationship with God turned out to be exactly what I needed. My emptiness was filled up by the love of my Savior. God built me up and showed me that I was worthy, I was loved, and to Him I was precious.
A few months later my mom was going on and on about this guy my parents had met at our family Thanksgiving. She kept saying that there was something different about this guy and I just had to meet him. At this point I was still swearing off men and really didn’t think letting my mother set me up was the key to happiness. Turns out, my Mom is always right…. We were traveling up to Cheyenne, Wyoming to watch my dad rope at Frontier Days. My mom kept on me that I should meet up with Jeff while we were there. I finally gave in and messaged Jeff (who had been sending me messages since Thanksgiving) to let him know we would be in town. He quickly replied with a rendezvous spot for that very night.
My sister and I drove over to the Albertson’s parking lot Jeff had requested we meet him at. I was very skeptical as we pulled in. Jeff was already there and stepped out of his truck with a big grin as we parked. I know it sounds weird, but I could tell from the moment we made eye contact that this was the man I was going to marry. It was like God was telling me Jeff was the reason all those other relationships didn’t work. It wasn’t because there was something wrong with me; it was because God had someone so much better in mind. God knew I needed to find Him before I would be ready to find the man he had planned for me. God waited on me through all of my mess. He never gave up on me and He was there with open arms when I came running back to him.
God’s plan is always better than our own. Your story may look very different then mine in the end, but one thing will always be true. God will never give up on me or you.
Spoiler Alert: Jeff and I didn’t ride off into a beautiful sunset of a courtship. We had heck working out our differences and making it through a long distance relationship. The story just begins here, come back next week to see how it all went down.
Thank you for visiting my blog. Today I want to share a story that took place almost 4 years ago. This is the birth story of our first daughter, Grace Josephine Berry (aka Gracie Jo, aka JoJo) Disclaimer: If you are pregnant you may want to come back and read this one after you give birth. I know I hated when people shared their horrible delivery experiences with me when I was expecting. Also, anyone else that doesn’t want to know personal details of my birth story, here is your chance to duck out and catch me on the next post as well.
The story takes place in March of 2015. It was an abnormally nice week in Wyoming, and I had spent every day walking at the park getting my body ready to deliver it’s first baby. The night of the 17th I woke up and it felt like I had wet my pants a little bit, but the doctor had assured me the day before that if my water broke it would be a huge gush, so I wrote it off as another embarrassing pregnancy moment and went back to bed.
The next morning I woke up and once again it seemed like I had a mini pants wetting episode so I told Jeff about it. He had been with me at the doctor office the day before and reminded me the doctor said we would know when my water broke. I told him I wanted to get checked out anyway, and in true rancher form he said, “Okay. Let me go feed the cows and check everything and then I’ll take you to town.”
He got back about 9:30 and we got ready and drove to town. We both felt silly walking into the doctors’ office and calmly telling them we think my water might of broke. They looked at us like the first time amateurs we were and said they would let the doctors know we wanted to be checked out.
We got to see Dr. Story a few minutes later and he checked to see if I was indeed in labor. He decided to run a couple tests and was back in our room in a matter of minutes. Sure enough, my water had not completely broken, but I was leaking amniotic fluid and there was a risk of infection if we did not get to the hospital quick for delivery.
The moment felt surreal, Jeff and I were excited that we would be meeting our baby girl that day! We drove straight to the hospital, checked in and prepared to deliver our baby girl. The doctor on call that day was Dr. VanKirk. I had never met her before, but I instantly loved her the moment she walked in. She was upbeat and made us feel she had everything under control. We were giddy and excited, not knowing that the experience would go down as one of the worst and best days of our lives.
My body was not in labor even though I was leaking amniotic fluid, so I had to be induced. Since we were now on a time crunch to deliver because of the risk of infection, we had to be pretty aggressive with the meds used to induce me. The contractions came on pretty quickly and they were extremely painful with little to no breaks in between them. I received an epidural about 4pm. After getting the epidural in, I was able to relax and calm down. Unfortunately my body tried to relax a little too much, and my blood pressure dropped so low that I was not pumping enough blood to our baby girl. The baby’s heart rate monitor starting beeping loudly as the nurses and Dr. Vankirk quickly came into our room. I had discussed with Dr. VanKirk early on that I didn’t want to have to do a C-Section. She said we would try an adrenaline shot, but if that didn’t work we would need to go straight in for a C-section. I agreed, my babies well being and safety being my first priority. The adrenaline shot kicked in quickly and baby girl’s heartbeat stabilized. We were all able to take a deep breath and settle in for a few more hours of contractions.
A little bit after 8 pm we had another scare, the same issue we had before of our baby girl’s heartbeat weakening happened again, but this time we completely lost it on the monitor. Dr. Vankirk calmly told me that I would have to deliver my baby right this minute because she was in danger. She yelled out that we needed more nurses in the room and the room filled up with too many medical people to count. Dr. Vankirk stayed calm and in control of the situation, but I could see the urgency in her eyes. Jeff also stayed calm and supportive, but I could tell he was freaking out on the inside. He grabbed my hand. I had multiple nurses on both sides of me holding my legs and feet. I remember in that moment a feeling of extra human strength as I began pushing my baby out with everything I had. Everyone in the room was yelling out encouragement, telling me she was almost out. It took only 3 pushes for me to deliver.
Doctor Vankirk lifted our baby up and was moving to put her on my chest when we all realized she was not in good shape. She was so blue that she was black. She was not making a sound. They cut the cord and immediately took her to the baby incubator to start working on her.
I remember pleading with everyone around me. Asking them, is my baby okay? Is she going to make it? Is my baby all right? Dr. Vankirk told me that for right now she had to work on me, and that my baby was in good hands, but the look on her face expressed her uncertainty.
I looked up at Jeff and he was white as a ghost. He, unlike me, could see everything that was happening to our baby girl as the doctors and nurses worked so hard to get her to breathe. Immediately it hit me. “We have to pray! Jeff, start praying!” Jeff began praying a prayer that I will never forget. I actually remember thinking, “No! don’t pray that!” But I knew the words he spoke were faith filled to a God we trusted with everything.
Jeff prayed, “Father God, we pray right now for our baby girl. We know that she is yours. We know that weather you take her up with you or we get to keep her here with us that she is yours first. We want this baby girl so bad God! We pray your will be done.”
I continued praying as I looked around and noticed a couple of the nurses by me were praying as well! And then we heard it, the beautiful scream of our precious baby girl. God had so clearly moved in that room, he had opened the lungs of our baby. I busted out sobbing, letting myself go when I had been trying so hard to keep it together. We thought we would name our little girl Addison or Avery, but Jeff said right at that moment, “We are naming her Grace.” I was in complete agreement!
Our baby girl was completely fine. She had no health issues at all. They brought her over to me all bundled up and beautiful. Words do not express the love I felt for her and the relief that my baby girl was in my arms and everything was okay.
I share this story for a couple different reasons. First, I share it for myself. I want to document our story so I can always go back and remember the moment that we cried out the God of the Universe and He so clearly moved in that moment to answer our prayer. There is pain in this story, but it is washed away by the joy. I wish in the moment I would of had the same faith and firmness of my Husband to be able to pray God’s will be done no matter what the outcome. My heart breaks for the families that have prayed the same prayer we prayed but didn’t get the answer we got. I know we serve a God that in all things works for the good of those who love HIM, but sometimes His way won’t make sense until we get to be up with Him in heaven and understand that it was the best way. I thank the Lord for every single day I get to spend with the precious babies He has trusted us with. I know we are not promised tomorrow.
Lastly, I hope this story can be of encouragement and attest to the power and love of our God. He heard our cry and He cared about our prayer. He is the God of the entire universe, but He heard the prayer of just two of His children and He was with us. His presence was in that room. He wants to be there when you need Him too. He wants to hold you when you need comfort, He wants to give you strength when your situation seems impossible, He wants to love you when you feel unlovable. He wants to be with you through it all.
I pray that you know your value and how precious you are to our God. Until we meet again,
Today I want to get a little deeper with you guys. Now that you know a little more about me and have heard a small part of my story let me get real with you.
I’m terrified that now that I have stepped into my calling, I might fail.
There is a chance that I could start this blog in all the excitement of something new and promising, only to lose interest and drop it like I’ve done with so many things before. I could let God and all the people who have reached out to support me down. I might drop the baton or fall flat on my face. Negative thoughts keep creeping into my consciousness. The worst of them being that nagging voice telling me I’ve been here before and I have given up.
The painful truth is: that voice isn’t lying.
I have taken a step out into my calling then promptly taken three steps back when I realized just how uncomfortable it is to be out of my “comfort zone.” I have heard God call and I have chosen not to answer. I have let the enemy’s deceitful, yet well devised attacks derail my progress. Yes, I have started races and chosen to quit in the middle.
But this time is different.
God has been preparing me for this my entire life. I now understand that every set back was actually a set up. God knew I would get knocked down a few times, but he also knew I would get back up. He saw me defeated, but knew victory was in my future. He will use my story for His glory!
I take the responsibility of living out God’s will for my life very seriously. I know that I am traveling down a narrow path, and it will be no surprise when trouble meets me along my journey. So, what is different this time? Now, I know how to fight! I also know who is fighting on my behalf.
I will put on my armor.
I will rest assured that with God, victory is already mine!
Below, I am going to list some powerful scripture that I have used to draw strength from and understand the battles I am facing.
1 Peter 5:8 “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
James 4:7 “Submit yourselves therefor to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
Trouble is inevitable:
John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous, do not be frightened and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Romans 8:31 “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”
The Armor of God:
“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
Philippians 1:6 “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on into completion at the day of Christ Jesus.
1 Corinthians 15:57 “But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Romans 8: 37-38 “No, in all things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I hope you realize that although I am confident in my God, there are times I doubt my qualification for the roles God has called me to fill. However, I take heart in looking back on my journey and on how far God has brought me. In Christ all things are possible. We just have to hold on to His promises and do our best to courageously enjoy the ride!